Everyday Australian heroes affected by the catastrophic bushfires are the new faces of iconic fashion label Country Road’s spring collection.
The brand was welcomed by the community of Glen Alice in New South Wales to shine a light on the ‘regeneration’ of the land following the devastating aftermath of the raging infernos.
Last summer, the blaze tore through the rural community at the base of the Blue Mountains in the Capertee Valley, three hours west of Sydney, leaving properties and wildlife scorched.
However, seven months later green shoots are starting to reappear from blackened tree trunks and fauna is starting to return to the area.
And now the fashion label has honoured the real heroes, including a firefighter who risked his life to save homes, a traditional lander owner and a mother-of-four who cooked meals to feed the frontline workers.
Farmer Terrie Wallace and her husband, along with their four children were among thousands of families who were forced to evacuate their homes amid Australia’s horror bushfire season.
Mother-of-four Terrie Wallace and her children were among thousands of families who were forced to evacuate their homes amid Australia’s horror bushfire season. Here she’s pictured with her daughter Matilda, 14, (far left), Henry, 10, (centre) and Campbell, 12, (far right)
As exhausted firefighters worked tirelessly to contain the blaze, Ms Wallace (pictured with her daughter Matilda) led a group of volunteers to make 60 meals a day for the RFS firefighters
As exhausted firefighters worked tirelessly to contain the blaze, Ms Wallace led a group of volunteers to make 60 meals a day for the RFS firefighters.
The family own two properties, about 120km apart, so her husband – who’s a member of the Rural Fire Service – was travelling between the valley and Mudgee to feed their livestock during the day while he battled the blazes at night.
‘He was going on the fire trucks at night working the fires,’ Ms Wallace told Daily Mail Australia.
She and the volunteers started making food for the firefighters after she was told there were no meals being offered at night.
‘The local butcher donated some steaks and bread and I got a phone call one night asking if I could make steak sandwiches to take out to the crew. So I did,’ she said.
‘We then had more steaks and all of these food being donated and we have a commercial kitchen in our local hall so we started making food every day.’
Country Road has honoured the real heroes, including a firefighter who risked his life to save homes, a traditional lander owner and a mother who cooked meals for the frontline workers
Country Road managing director, Elle Roseby said the brand was proud to be able to use their voice to shine a light on fire-affected areas
Ms Wallace said the bushfires, which started in November last year, was a ‘highly stressful’ time for the community.
‘There were a lot of people incredibly stressed while the fires were going on. We had RFS members out working day after day and they were really tired and really worn out,’ she explained.
‘The best day was when it started to rain and we stopped seeing smoke pop up everywhere. There’s a really great saying a friend of mine said: When the fires first started, we were told, “don’t call unless you see smoke”. So we called when we saw smoke. And then we were told, “don’t call unless you see flames”.
‘So we called when we saw flames. But we were told, “don’t call until you can see flames near the containment line”. So over time we were really desensitised, and we became used to the fires being in and around.
‘We were so desensitised to it, we just needed to get through the next day and we just needed the fire to be out at some stage.’
Firefighter Steve Dalli (pictured), captain of the Capertee Fire Brigade, said he lost around 11 kilos after spending 73 days with little sleep battling the ferocious blaze
Traditional land owner and renowned artist Peter Swain (pictured) also features in the campaign and talks of the importance of regeneration
Rylstone local Corey Armstrong Lane is one of the many faces of the new spring collection
Ms Wallace said the community has been quietly suffering since the bushfires.
‘I think there’s still a lot of strain. There are a lot of people in the valley who fought the fires – and because of COVID-19, we haven’t been able to publicly recognise their efforts,’ she said.
‘I’m hoping that publicly thanking them like this will help them realise what an amazing job they have done because there’s still a lot of stress.
‘From lifelong friendships that have fallen apart during the fires that are hopefully healing to marriages that broke up during the fires and those people are coming to the other end of it and they have to deal with not only how they felt around the fires, also the loss of relationships.’
She said she feels proud of the campaign for shining a light back on those who are still doing it tough.
‘I was blown away with how Country Road has developed our story – and how they’ve used real people and their clothes to showcase how fabulous our community is,’ she said.
‘As a teenager, my first pay check bought me a Country Road jumper – I never thought I’d be asked to participate in anything quite like this.’
Lillyandra Laurie and Corey are gracing the new Country Road spring campaign of 2020
Steve Dalli, captain of the Capertee Fire Brigade, said he lost around 11 kilos after spending 73 days with little sleep battling the ferocious blaze.
‘Being captain of the RFS, you’re making a commitment to the community. When the fires were on, I was under enormous pressure,’ Mr Dalli said.
‘After two and a half years of drought and the bushfires, to now see the trees and local bushland slowly coming back to life is absolutely fantastic.’
Mr Dalli swapped his firefighting overalls for sweats and shirts for the fashion shoot.
‘Seeing our community’s story at the forefront of the Country Road campaign for the world to see is quite an honour,’ he said.
Traditional land owner and renowned artist Peter Swain also features in the campaign and talks of the importance of regeneration.
‘The land itself is healing after the fires. Regeneration is about us as people engaging with the land and the animals in a way again that we are equals and that we are growing together. We must put magic back into the land,’ Mr Swain.
Ironically, Mr Swain’s partner, Jo, was a Country Road model back in the early 1980s. Although he said she didn’t give him any tips ahead of the shoot, he said he was looking forward to travelling to the city to see the campaign in store.
The brand was welcomed by the community of Glen Alice in New South Wales to capture the ‘regeneration’ of the land following the devastating aftermath of the raging infernos
Country Road managing director, Elle Roseby said the brand was proud to be able to use their voice to shine a light on fire-affected areas.
‘When we heard Steve talking about the importance of regeneration, it really hit home for us – and, that was honoured in this year’s campaign name,’ Ms Roseby said.
‘It provides a sense of moving forward, of growth – and that’s exactly what you see from the people of Glen Alice, and no doubt, other fire-affected, communities.
‘The incredible stories that are told in this year’s campaign – quite simply couldn’t have been told without the people at the heart of them.’
The Country Road Spring range is on sale now.